Looking for something fun and exciting to do with the kids this weekend? Consider going to Surin in the Isaan region, where the annual Elephant Round Up is taking place from 14 to 16 November.
Elephants are a central element in Thai culture, and Surin has long been known as the “Land of Elephants”, home to skilled elephant trainers. The Surin Elephant Round Up, held in mid-November each year, pays homage to this heritage. It is essentially a gathering of elephants from the area, including a remote village called Ban Ta Klang. The locals are Kui, an ethnic people with a long tradition of elephant training.
There are about 300 elephants taking part in this festival. They will showcase their working skills, as well as demonstrate the relationship between the elephant and its keeper, the mahout. The elephants will also partake in colourful activities, such as a float procession, football match and re-enactment of war battles. During the festival, scores of elephants usually roam around Surin’s streets. Visitors are welcome to ride, pet or feed them – a great opportunity to see these majestic creatures up close!
The Elephant Round Up is held at Si Narong Stadium and the Surin Elephant Show Compound.
From Bangkok, you can travel to Surin by car, bus or train. By car, take Highway 1 on Phaholyothin Road, turn into Highway 2 on Mittraparb Road, and then take Highway 226 to Surin. The total distance is about 450 kilometres, or about a 6-hour drive. If you elect to travel by bus, there are many buses leaving Bangkok’s Northeastern Bus Terminal each day. From Bangkok’s Hua Lumphong Railway Station, daily trains to Ubon Ratchathani stop at Surin Railway Station.
Where to Stay
Local hotels, such as Surin Majestic, Thong Tarin and Phetkasem Grand, as well as many guesthouses, offer decent accommodations. Book in advance, as the Elephant Round Up is a busy time for this sleepy town.